Social Identity Theory

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 Social identity theory (SIT) was developed to study intra- and intergroup relations. In the past decade SIT has been used increasingly to study the influence of group processes on intra- and inter-organizational relations and organizational outcomes. Theories in the field of organizational behavior tend to see the individual as the central agent in social situations, studying individual attitudes, motivation, and behavior. SIT departs from the idea that employees act on the basis of the social groups they are a member of (e.g., job title, ethnicity, religion, team, unit, or the organization) and the degree to which they identify with these groups.

By doing so, SIT offers a different perspective on a wide range of work behaviors that have previously been poorly understood, and is supported by a large number of experimental and field studies. SIT is able to explain why group members may give up personal interests to reach a better position for their group as a whole, why employees display negative behavior towards their organization, why some leaders are better than others, why employees remain loyal to their notorious organization, etcetera.

In this course, we will present a short overview of social identity theory, but will focus on the most recent theoretical and empirical developments. Some specific topics that will be discussed from the social identity perspective - and contrasted with general perspectives - are motivation, communication processes, team learning, diversity, and leadership.

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